Although written before the modern discoveries that define Ancient Near Eastern studies today, Paton’s historic foray into the history of Syria and Palestine served to start a continuing discussion that remains active today. Covering the Babylonian, Aramaean, Egyptian, Hittite, and Assyrian empires, Paton demonstrates what was known of the history of the region with the limited resources of nineteenth-century explorations.
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Written before many of the discoveries that have shaped modern Ancient Near Eastern studies surfaced, Paton was an early explorer of the history of the biblical world. Beginning as far back as turn-of-the-twentieth-century knowledge reached, he explained what was known of the earliest inhabitants of the regions of Syria and Palestine. Informed by the then recent discoveries of Mesopotamian archives, he describes the Old Babylonian days of supremacy and the migration of the Amorites into the region. Focusing on the famed city of Babylon, Paton demonstrates its historical significance. Tracing the migration of the Canaanites, then the period of Egyptian hegemony over the region, the author is now poised to incorporate the Hittites and the Aramaean migration and the consequent rise of their state. Now close to the biblical period, the judges of the Bible are given consideration, as are the kings of Israel and Judah. Naturally the account moves on to the encroachment and rise of Assyria and comes to a conclusion with the Neo-Babylonian empire. Written in a period when the fresh blush of new discovery was in the air, Paton’s account, if not always historically correct, remains a testament to the early days of an emerging field of study that specialist and generalists alike will find fascinating.
Lewis Bayles Paton (1864-1932) was a prominent biblical scholar of his day. He studied at New York University and Princeton. He taught at Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut.